A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries - and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series - with an extra serving of historical realism.
©2011 Deborah Harkness (P)2011 Penguin
Witches, vampires, demons, did we forget anything? Oh yes, a few ghosts and let's not forget the humans. Shouldn't there be some werewolves but oddly enough, there aren't any. There is an interesting plot, a mysterious alchemical manuscript, an old unsolved murder and finally the "hero" and "heroine". However, this is the first time that I've listened to a book and found the plot to be more interesting than the main characters. And the plot is what kept me going through the entire 24 hours and 2 minutes.
We first meet Diana Bishop, scholar, historian, emotionally stunted witch in the Bodleian Library and are quickly introduced to Matthew Clairmont, tall, dark, handsome stranger, no wait...vampire. Without much ado, Diana and Matthew become attracted to each other though why isn't at all clear. Neither character displays much by way of personality other than a propensity on Diana's part to be insipid, insecure and irrational. Matthew on the other hand, is autocratic, demanding and superior. And hearing him call Diana "mon coeur" over and over becomes positively nauseating. Both characters seem to have no conversation other than to make silly demands of each other, or issuing ultimatums. Buy the end of the book I was heartily sick of Diana and Matthew. They had become caricatures, one dimensional, boring and unsympathetic. And I really don't much care what happens to them.
Reader Jennifer Ikeda does an adequate job, though some of her voices for the different characters start to grate after awhile. It is perhaps more an indication of the character development (or lack thereof) that affects the reading.
There is promise to author Deborah Harkness' writing, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to finish A Discovery of Witches. Hopefully she'll continue to grow as an author and write a really terrific next book.
This book felt like a failed attempt at creating a grown-up Twilight. Whether you like them or not, the similarities between S.M.'s books and this one are obvious. In addition, I didn't realize this was a romance when I bought the book- IT IS! The romance takes up at least 3/4 of the book and moves at a confusing, awkward pace. I only kept listening to it so that I could write a review based on the entire book- otherwise I would have stopped listening around 2/3 of the way through.
On the bright side- the narrator does a fantastic job. The stars are for her.
I have purchased many audible books and this is the first time I have been compelled to write a review. I loved this book! I was totally hooked in the first 5 min.,very well writen. The plot is a refreshing change from alot of other books like this. The narrator was great and really kept the story interesting. I will definately read more books by this author and narrator!!!
I agree with some of the earlier reviews:
Twilight for adults. Sappy. Romantic fiction.
But what teed me off is that this is 24 hours of set up for a series.
Asa King and Rice fan I was disappointed. As a Christie fan I was livid.
In all that time the mystery doesn't get solved. Poirot we need you.
I resented being sucked into a series without warning.
Series are great as long as each book will stand on its own. This one does not.
I found the description of this book very misleading. The storyline of witches, vampires and demons and the mystery of a magical book is what drew me to this novel. Instead, I found it to be a very overdone story about how much the main character wants to have sex with vampires. I'm not sure what the draw is, but I found the "love story" part of this novel worse and worse as the book went on.
It also seemed like the author lost track of the story, as by the end, it was very confusing as to what everyone was doing, what their motivations were, etc. Basically, this book read to me mostly as a "Twilight for adults". The main character, on one side is the "most powerful witch ever" and on the other side she needs to be completely taken care of and babied the entire time.
To make it worse, the part of the story that I was actually interested in (the mystery about the "magic book") as well as most of the rest of the conflicts is never resolved at the end. Even with some random deus ex machina (an enchanted house and time traveling) the author doesn't even bother tying the story together. I certainly will not be bothering with any sequel if it's written.
I like realistic books that stretch the truth and the laws of physics...and also emotionally resonant narration that doesn't suck.
The narrator did well here. I would listen to her pleasant voice again.
I couldn't see this series being a very good movie or series really. It would probably end up being a replica of true blood or twilight, with more childish ideas of romance.
This book is mostly centered on the romance between the main characters, more so than the potentially very interesting story line. The romance goes inexplicably from acquaintance to undying love right off the bat, without any exchanges between the characters that would indicate their feelings for each other without the author just spelling it out for you. The heroin is not especially mature (for a doctor at Oxford!), Or likeable. Her loving, elder matriarch witch aunt comes off as a complete jerk. The story leans on narratives and elements already well traveled by the sookie Stackhouse novels and the true blood series, which should work out quite lucratively for this author. The set up for sequels in this book seems obvious and opportunistic, as it sacrifices the integrity of the story. The author jumped into all the magical elements of the world of her story so immediately that it kind of made it hard for me to suspend my disbelief, though she did recover some of that magical realism for me later on in the first few hours of the book. SOME. The only things I really admired about this book are 1.) The research the author must have done on DNA sequencing and other biology related narratives, and how well she used it, and 2.) The creativity of the elements of the story that seemed more original, like the explanations of the "reality" of witches as "creatures" living in hiding among humans, and the witches academic interest in alchemy. All in all, though I love fantasy/reality and science fiction, I would have preferred to read something else. Something more well written, and less cliche and romance focused.
I was hoping for a supernatural mystery but what I got was a very by the numbers Harlequin romance. Theres nothing wrong with that its just not what I enjoy & I think the description should be more forthcoming. After many shuddering sighs and descriptrions of lingering touches and smoldering glances I was literally laughing out loud while listening. Hate the weak woman, strong man dynamic. I thought the narrator was good. If you like the Twilight series, you'll probably enjoy this.
I love a good story, especially one with a bit of a dark side.
My ten year old daughter listened to this and loved it. She wrote a review for the second book in the series but because she loved it so much I thought I should write one for the first book for her. I have not listened to the series yet, so it might seem odd to write a review for it. It is, but... I am only stating that she LOVED the book. She asks me every time we look for a new book for her if I've listened to this one yet. I keep saying, "No, but I will." To which she says, "You better!" She's a good judge of books. If it's not interesting, she won't listen.
Audible Fan, Amazon Customer, Gardener, Quilter, Liberal and Activist. I'll read about anything!
I feel the author read all the YA vampire, paranormal,witches etc etc books, put 'em in a blender with a soupçon of Nora Roberts, whipped em up and went for the money. After all, this stuff sells right now.
People give this book 5 freaking stars..To me, a 5 star book is "The Prince of Tides" I gave 5 stars to "American Gods" and "The Stand" This book isn't anywhere near that category and, really..there aren't that many actual 5 star books out there, but reviewers, lost in the blush of a fun read, will say "Its the best book I ever read", give it 5 stars and negate the review system. Nor is this book a total stinker-with editing and rewriting, it could come out to a reasonable book-so I gave it 2 stars overall.
OK I'm off my soap box.
Vamps, werewolves, witches and so on are hot sellers these days. Combined with uber strong and smart women along the lines of Skalander and Everdean. If you include some romance you have a 'guaranteed sell' to a certain audience that simply loves the genre and does not demand plotting or character development....and good for them. They have a lot to read these days.
Personally I also enjoy WELL WRITTEN books in this genre.
This book isn't well written, needs an editor to work it over and chop about 1/3 of the content....it just made me bored with the trite writing.
Lots of readers seem to love it though and I think about the same number of readers dislike it.
Guess that makes it average. I wish I hadn't spent a credit on it-I failed to read all the reviews-just hit the positive ones.
It might not make a bad read from the used book store for a couple of bucks, but it wasn't worth a whole credit to me.
Those who love this book will hate my review-but it's honestly my opinion...maybe I can save some other critically minded reader from making the same mistake I did.
This book has some things going for it: intriguing mystery, interestingly sketched characters, references to medieval and renaissance literature, etc... however, it is bogged down by a sappy and absurd romance between the two central characters. This treatment serves to flatten them out into 'cardboard cutouts' and make them very silly. I found myself rolling my eyes at yet another 'but I love him' or goofy description of what the main character was wearing. The character treatments are riddled with cliches: wealthy, suave French vampire (a la Anne Rice), scrappy on the outside mushy on the inside central character Dianna Bishop who needs a good man to help her to find her secret powers. I found myself thinking of her like I remember Nancy Drew from my grade school years -- she can ride a horse, write a dissertation, run a six minute mile, seduce a vampire with her magic who-who, and god knows what else? world peace? Give me a break! There are so many repeated lines about the vampire man's protective shielding of his woman, Dianna's uber, super magic, their undying love, their pet names for each other -- gag. This book should have been edited to half it's length and all the cliche sappy goo removed. Ms. Harkness does not trust her reader to get to know the characters through what they do, she hits us over the head with bombastic 'twoo-wov'. I just finished Suzanna Clarkes masterwork 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norris' which makes this novel look like a grocery store paperback... sigh. Maybe she will correct this stuff on her 2nd novel?
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